Lebensohl over Reverses

Some of the most difficult and awkward of all bridge auctions are those after a reverse. A reverse (see the lesson on this site) is opener's 2-level rebid in a higher-ranking suit than his opened suit (1C-1S-2D or 2H). A reverse always shows extra values and at least 5-4 distribution in the two suits.

A reverse is forcing for one round, but it may be made with as few as 16-17 pts., so it does not promise forcing-to-game values. Stopping below game, though, can sometimes be a problem. Because the reverse uses up so much bidding space, it can often propel the auction into an unmakeable game when both responder and opener have minimums.

To solve this problem, many partnerships have adopted a convention called Lebensohl over Reverses. After opener's reverse, responder uses a 2NT rebid to show a weak hand (5-7 pts.) that wants to stop in a 3-level partscore if opener has minimum reverse values. Here's how it works:

Responder's use of 2NT Lebensohl

Lebehsohl 2NT is used at your second bid after opener makes a reverse to the 2-level (1C-1S-2H). In this situation, 2NT by you usually shows weakness (5-7 pts.) and is a relay bid, asking partner to rebid 3C if he has a minimum (16-18 pts.).

After the auction:   Partner        You
                               1D              1S
                               2H             2NT  (Lebensohl)
                               3C               ?

you have two ways to show weakness:

Although the Lebensohl 2NT is usually used with a weak response, you can also use it to start the description of a stronger hand that has a 6-card suit. In the above auction, after partner bids 3C, you can bid 3S to show a forcing-to-game hand (8+ pts.) with 6 spades -- a hand like  K108742  J3  104  AJ8 .

Note that if opener refuses your relay and bids past 3C, he's showing significant extra strength. You must keep bidding to game level, no matter how weak you are.

Opener's rebid after 2NT

If responder bids 2NT over your reverse, it's the Lebensohl convention, which asks you to bid 3C. You should accept the relay and bid 3C if you have minimum values (16-18 pts.). However, with stronger hands -- those where you want to be in game, even if partner has a bare 5-7 pts. -- you can refuse the relay and bid past 3C.

After the auction:   You            Partner
                               1D              1S
                               2H             2NT  (Lebensohl)
here are the ways you can show a forcing-to-game hand (19+ playing pts.):

Other actions by responder after a reverse

Having the Lebensohl 2NT available will change the meanings of some of your other rebids. After the reverse, if responder makes any bid past 2NT, it shows forcing-to-game values.

After the auction:    You           Partner
                                1D              1S
                                2H               ?

here are the meanings of your other actions:

Copyright   Karen Walker